Paris Travel Tips

Tied only to New York, Paris is one of my favorite cities…today I’m sharing a few of my favorite highlights that should be on everyone’s bucket list when they visit!

Take A Train Ride: If you enjoy getting different perspectives whenever you travel, I would highly recommend taking a train ride through the countryside. It’s such a fun way to take in new sights and experiences all the while getting to mingle with tourists and locals alike!

Hire a Tour Guide: One of the absolute highlights of our trip was hiring a private tour guide. The tour started in Paris and landed on the coast near Gold Beach. We had hours of conversation with the guide that gave us insight and historical information that I would have never dreamed to ask in the first place!

Street Food: I know…it’s Paris, there’s French restaurants galore where they offer incredible cheese, bread and savory dishes. But nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to the street stands. My personal favorite was ordering the Nutella & Banana Crepes. They were out of this world amazing and nothing has come closes to it state side.

Dine at the Top: Take in sweeping views at the top of the Eiffel Tower over dinner! It was worth it and still one of my favorite memories.

Best Things to Do in Memphis

Memphis is such a fun city for all ages! Today, I’m sharing a few of my favorite things from our recent road trips!

Central Barbecue: If you roll into town with an appetite, might I suggest diving right into local flavor at Central Barbecue. They have a great menu selection, fun atmosphere, and it is very kid friendly. The BBQ was delicious and I also loved their pork rinds!

Memphis Botanic Garden: If you happen to be there in spring or early summer, a highlight for us has been the local Botanic Gardens. Not only do they feature a plethora of flowers, tree, but also art, architecture, and amazing play spaces for kids! Definitely a photo worthy spot!

Crosstown Concourse: If you are looking for an urban shopping experience, I highly recommend the Crosstown Concourse. It’s a bustling atmosphere featuring multiple food outlets, shopping, and events. We had life changing popcorn at Pop-a-roos located at the Concourse. Seriously, its bucket list worthy.

Caffeine Fix: Before you head home, you may want to load up on caffeine. Get your fix at the Ugly Mug coffee shop. I loved the funky vibes and wide variety of drinks to choose from.

Have you been to Memphis recently? Would love to hear your own take-aways!

Crunchy Fish Tacos with Garlic Aioli

One of the reasons I fell in love with California was there AMAZING outlet of TACOS. I think every taco under the sun could be found on the streets of San Diego. I set out to re-create some of the flavors I encountered with this simple recreation…

First, I highly recommend tilapia steaks for this recipe. I baked mine in the oven until done and then shredded the fish and placed inside the crunchy corn taco shells.

Then bake the tacos for 10 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees. The shells will have a golden hue on the tips. I prefer my shells to be just a tad overdone for extra crunch…but that’s just my preference.

In a small bowl mix 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 to 2 teaspoons lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic, 1/4 teaspoons sriracha.

In another small bowl mix finely shredded cabbage and cilantro until well incorporated.

As soon at the fish tacos are finished cooking, top each taco with cabbage mixture, and finish off the with Aioli sauce.

Fish Tacos with Garlic Lime Aioli

2 Tilapia Steaks, cooked to preference

6 Hard Taco Shells

1 Avocado, sliced

1/4 Cup Shredded Red Cabbage

Cilantro, chopped (to taste)

For the Aioli:

1/4 Cup Mayo (use the real thing!)

1-2 teaspoons of lime juice

1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic

1/4 teaspoon Siracha

Bake Tilapia according to package directions. When finished, shred and place inside tortilla shells. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until done. Top with cabbage, cilantro and sauce. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Oh, and these pair well with fresh squeezed lemonade or even a sparkling water!

How To Make A Perfect Breve Latte

Smooth, rich, and creamy…just how I like my coffee! Read on to get my super simple recipe.

The Thing about latte’s is that any inkling of bitterness can put such a damper on your experience. So, I’m going to share with you a simple way to combat bitterness and acid with one tiny step:

Always add a SCANT touch of salt to your coffee. And when I mean scant, I mean four or five tiny morsels of salt. Sea salt works great since you can actually count it. Ha! It works like a charm every time. You’ll want to add the salt to the coffee while it’s brewing…not after.

Brew your cup of coffee whichever way you prefer. I tend to use a Verismo or occasionally my French Press. I have a soft spot of Kenya beans. They are smooth, bold, and delicious. Of course, use what you prefer!

Once your coffee is brewed, the next step of magic takes place…

Whisk 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream with sweetener of your choice and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla. You can buy coffee whisks online or use an electronic whisk.

Gently pour the heavy cream into your brewed cup of coffee. Then, lightly dust cinnamon on top.

For extra sweetness, you can also sprinkle a touch of sugar granules or Stevia on the top.

Enjoy!

What about you? Do you have a special method for brewing a Breve Latte?

Breve Latte

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla

1 cup Brewed Coffee

Sweetener of Choice

Perfect Fettuccine Alfredo Recipe

Do you enjoy pasta? Regularly crave authentic Fettuccine Alfredo? I’ve got the easiest most luscious recipe for Alfredo that will have you transported to the land of Pasta in no time…

The base of this recipe is made with heavy cream. It’s all about timing and slowly adding ingredients to create a thick and decadent sauce.

Start with Two tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Once the butter is melted, add one teaspoon of crushed garlic.

Add one cup of heavy cream to the saucepan and bring to a low simmer.

Once the cream mixture is simmering add one cup of shredded Parmesan.

Turn off the burner and mix the sauce until the cheese has melted.

Hopefully, the pasta that you’ve been cooking is al dente, drained, and ready for the sauce.

Pour the cream mixture over the noodles and mix until well coated. Add nutmeg. I know this sounds crazy, but this is what gives the alfredo that delightful “What’s this?” flavor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add an additional 1/2 cup of shredded Parmesan.

Serve with peas or chicken for an added flavor. Enjoy!

Full Recipe:

2 Tablespoons Butter

1 Cup Heavy Cream

1 Teaspoon Crushed Garlic

1 Cup Shredded Parmesan (divided evenly)

1/8 Teaspoon Nutmeg

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Creole Seasoning, optional

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add cream and bring to low simmer. Add 1/2 cup Parmesan and stir until melted. Pour over pasta and add additional 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with salt & black pepper to your discretion. If you enjoy a bit of kick to your pasta, add a scant 1/2 teaspoon of creole seasoning. Serve! Enjoy.

One Day at Disneyland With Toddlers

If you only have one day at Disneyland and you’ve got toddlers to boot, here’s a list to help you knockout bucket list items and make your visit a breeze! Honestly, Disney thinks of everything!

My first tip, would be to pack a backpack with items that you may need with toddlers: hand sanitizer, baby wipes, first aid kit, sunblock, water bottles, snacks, toys to hold their attention (think busy toys that they can hold in their hand!). I also highly recommend bringing your own stroller as renting one cost quite a bit of dough!

Packing our own snacks came in handy when we stood in line for rides or when we were taking a break. Little bags of chews are nice because they don’t make a mess! I also took juice boxes to help save a little money during our lunch break. Also, if your kiddo gets a boo boo during your time there and you forgot a first aid kit, just ask a Disney employee for help.

When you first arrive to the park, take a minute to have your picture taken by Disney staff. This is seriously the best tip because you start the day off with a cute family picture and you don’t have to worry about capturing it later on (especially when you get hot and sweaty! Ha!). They will take a professional picture that is downloaded to a card that you can later upload and pick out which one you like. They will also take pictures for you with your own phone (read: save money! They do a great job with iphone pics).

Once your picture has been taken, and you walk through the entrance tunnel, there are generally characters ready for meet and greet. Goofy was on duty the morning we visited and it was fun to see a character right away!

If you are hungry, can I recommend the hot dogs at Refreshment Corner? It’s an adorable eccentric soda fountain complete with rag time music. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. The hot dog was smothered with cheese…and wow, I’m hungry just typing that. Also, you can’t miss the cafe across the street to get that once in a lifetime Disney Starbucks cup! The lines can get long, but it moves quickly! There is also an outside seating area for the kiddos if you need to take five to recoup or rest!

Another perfect memory making opportunity for the kids is to head to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle first thing in the morning. The Disneyland Band has a fantastic performance and parade. Your kids will get to see tons of characters in one fell swoop and the music is so fun! Plus, I mean, you get THE CASTLE as a backdrop! You can check the schedule to see what times the performances will take place.

For attractions that youngsters will enjoy: The Carousel, Dumbo, and Walk Through of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle were total winners for my little ones. Best part is they are all located in the same area, so it’s easy to knock these out right away. And don’t miss the Christmas ornament shop located across from the carousel!

At this point, your kids may need a rest. You can head to the Tikki Torch Hut for Dole Whips and a place to sit down and rest. Or you can head back to Main Street U.S.A. to visit the theater. Inside the little theater is a place to sit and watch old Mickey Mouse Cartoons! The kids can also get up and stretch to get a few wiggles out!

Onward to meet Mickey Mouse! This was the only thing that my girls requested to do. They could not wait to meet Micky Mouse! His house is located in Toon Town. The line to meet Mickey actually wraps throughout his house, so there is a lot to see and do while you wait. They also have cartoons playing at the very end of the line before you get to see him. Be sure to have your phone ready for pictures as once you go through the doors for a meet and greet, it goes fast!

Another fun thing to do that I felt was highly underrated was riding the Disneyland Railroad train! It’s such a fun way to see more of Disneyland and yet you get to sit down and rest! You can hop on and off at any time. We actually road it all the way around before getting off just to see more of the park and the kids were thrilled….because, train.

We also took time to visit Star Wars land….just walking through it was magical. There is so much to see and do!

As you head out of the park, you should stop at Jolly Holiday Bakery that offers Mickey Mouse Cookies for the kids and fun desserts for parents….all with a fun Mary Poppins Theme. It’s the perfect exit as you make your way back to your car.

Don’t forget to stop off and pick out a souvenir too, and keep your eye on the exit for more characters for photo ops!

Slow Cooker Recipe: Italian Pot Roast

September, in all her crisp glory is here, and that means my slow cooker will get put back into regular routine around here. I’m all about hearty soups, stews, and yes, a delicious pot roast!

A couple of years ago, I stumbled on a variation of the ever popular Butter Roast, but this recipe has Italian seasonings and peppers added. It is the perfect combination of herbs, butter, and juicy meat! Ours is cooking away as I type up the recipe.

And since most folks hate long winded introductions to recipes, I’ll nip it in the bud and get straight to the point…

Slow Cooker Italian Pot Roast

1 Cup Onions, Diced

1 Stick of Butter

1 Packet of Dry Zesty Italian Seasoning

1 Packet of Au Jus

2-3 Pepperocini Peppers

1 Can Beef Broth

1 Roast

Also, I like to line my slow cooker with cooking bags, add the roast, the wet ingredients, and then the seasonings. Let is cook for four hours on high (or six on slow).

This recipe makes its own gravy. So I spoon out the meat and drizzle the leftover gravy on top. It is paired very well with mashed potatoes!

The leftover meat also makes a delicious drip sandwich! Just slather the meat onto hoagie rolls, melt mozzarella or Colby jack cheese on top, and enjoy.

Fall Traditions For Your Family

Cozy sweaters, falling leaves, rainy afternoons, a hint of the holidays to come…

Fall has always been my favorite season, and as I get older, the gentle switch from Summer to Fall brings about all the feelings of nostalgia. And more than anything, I want to soak up and savor these precious moments with my family by creating memories.

Years ago, I created a fall bucket list that brought about new traditions for our little family of four. Now, my five year old looks forward to the changing seasons and all that it entails for us.

Here’s a look at a few simple and low cost ways to create Fall Traditions for your own family:

  1. Go On A Leaf Hunt: This will be our third annual leaf hunt, and it is one that is perfect for kids of all ages. We drive around town looking for the most colorful trees to take pictures, collect leaves for a “leaf bouquet” and then finish the afternoon with coffee & a treat at Starbucks. This is one we all love and look forward too!
  2. Paint Pumpkins: I know carving pumpkins is a regular tradition for many, but our kids love anything that involves paint. You could try painting with sponges or even splatter painting pumpkins for something different! Make it a contest to see who comes up with the most bizarre pumpkin painting.
  3. Bake a New Recipe Together: For us, fall means cozy foods like pumpkin bread and soup that simmers in a crock-pot. Use this season to try a new recipe together and make it a family affair. Kids love learning their way around a kitchen.
  4. Leaf Raking Party: Perhaps there is an elderly couple or a single mom that could use some help with raking leaves. Or just turn your own backyard leaf escapade into a get together. We had a couple of young ladies come help us with our backyard and after the job was done we all enjoyed a round of pizza together
  5. Move Night: Find a fall themed movie that the entire family can enjoy on the first night of fall. It will help set the mood and get everyone excited about the season. Our favorite is It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!
  6. Go Hiking: Fall is the perfect time for long drives and hiking adventures. There are so many colorful landscapes to enjoy. Make it more memorable by collecting rocks, leaves and other nature items to turn it into a gentle learning lesson.
  7. Make S’mores: What’s fall without S’mores? Whether you make them in a oven or cook them over a campfire, it’s a fun way to make memories with the kiddos
  8. Visit A Corn Maze: While everyone sets aside time for a trip to the pumpkin patch, add a visit to a Corn Maze to your list.
  9. Apple Stamping Craft: If you have smaller kids, an apple stamping craft may be the perfect activity for long afternoons at home!
  10. Apple Tasting Party: Pick up apples of different variety, or better yet pick them yourself at a U Pick Farm. Cut and slice each apple for family members to try. Turn it into a taste test game and let everyone rate the apples to see which apple is the most favored!

Most importantly, have fun together and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Three Tips For Simple Living

 

I became somewhat obsessed with the idea of simple living long before we had kids. I had never really heard of the term, but in short, the idea was to simplify all areas of life in order to focus on what’s truly important. For me, that means my faith and my family.

Yet, there is one key aspect of simple living that I have only recently learned.

Simple living doesn’t mean that life will never get complicated or messy–it just means that you will be better equipped at what life throws your way!

There are also five areas in life that you can keep at the forefront of your mind that will help you stay on the simple living track:

  • Always keep your paper clutter at bay: In order to keep our papers out from piling on the countertops, I bought a two teared basket to hang on our laundry room wall. I also created an emergency binder for important paperwork that we keep in a safe location.
  • Always keep your car clean: seriously, is there anything more frustrating that running to family get togethers or church only to find that your car reeks of stale French fries? I do a weekly deep clean of our car which takes less than half an hour. I also like to de-clutter the car on Saturday nights before church. Having a peaceful drive on the way to service makes me happy. Really happy. 😉
  • Always keep a running grocery list: Ya’ll, this is my biggest struggle. Sometimes, I try to wing it when I head to the grocery stores. End result? I always forget ingredients and have to go back. Can you say time waster?

Those are some of my best tips for maintaining a simplified life. What are some of yours?

Banned Instagram Hashtags + Shadowban

Oh, Instagram. The one social media network that confuses the techie within us all! Not to mention, it keeps us guessing, ya know?

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of my fellow IG buds sharing less than stellar trends:

  • Low engagement
  • Blocked Accounts
  • Unable to follow
  • Unable to gain new followers

I did a little research and found out several interesting things.

First off, if you’ve noticed your pics are NOT being liked or noticed much, you may want to double check your hashtags. There are a TON of banned hashtags out there, and if you happen to be using them, your pictures won’t be showing up on keyword feeds.

So, how do you find out if a hashtag is banned? The easiest way is to manually type in your keyword in the Instagram search bar. If the keyword you typed up bring ups a “no match found” message, then most likely it has been banned.

Keep in mind, some keywords are banned for a few days while others are banned infinitely. Or until the Instagram guru’s decide otherwise. 

Also, you may also want to refrain from cheesy hashtags as they are overused and rarely get the pic traffic that you are looking for. Example: #friends, #fun, etc.

Also, another tip? Avoid shadowban (when your account is hidden from other people finding it) on your account when sharing your link to Facebook. Drop your Instagram link, but be sure to delete the “?” from your link and whatever follows it.

Do you have any tips on avoiding shadowban?

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